10th Annual TBS Invitational Hal Halvorson The USGF contacted several high ranking USA gym nasts and informed them that they had been selected to participate in the 10th TBS Invitational Gymnastics Meet to be held in the Southern Japanese city of Gita, sight also of a very large steel making plant-larger than U.S. Steel. Selected were Beth Johnson of Belcher, Louisiana, one of Vannie Edward's gals, Jeanine Creek of Great Falls, Montana and her coach Hal Halvorson . The boys coach for this trip was Mas Watanabe the USGF age group development director and the young men of his charge being 26 year-old Jay Whelan, veteran U.S. gymnast and Mario McCutcheon from Abie Grossfield 's team at Southern Connecticut State College in New Haven, Connecticut. Jay is currently serving as the head men's coach at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We all met at the Pan American check-in counter prior to our 9 hour flight direct to Tokyo . Good things were already beginning to happen as we recognized Christopher Reeves, star of the movie Superman . After taking a picture with him and asking for his autograph we discovered he was going to Japan also, although not on our flight. We invited him to our exhibition in Tokyo only to find out later that it was cancelled. Mas arrived about 20 minutes before boarding time with our passports and visitor visas. We had begun to worry as the departure time neared. Mario's connections from Connecticut were close also but everything worked out. We spent almost the entire flight visiting and getting to know each other in our small American delegation to the far East. Mas, of course, is a Japanese citizen and we were full of questions about events to come. We discovered Mas was almost, if not more, excited about the trip than us as he had not been back to Japan for 10 years. We were met shortly after our arrival by Mr. Kadawaki , the Director of the Japanese Gymnastic's Association and after exchanging some U.S. dollars for Japanese yen, we boarded a bus which was to take us around Tokyo Bay from the new Nirata Airport to Japan's old international airport where we were to fly to Gita the following morning. Gita is a steel manufacturing city located on the southern Japanese Island of Kyushu . I should mention that because of Mario's close connections he discovered his bags missing. They were found and brought to us in Gita in time for the meet fortunately. Here we were met by Mr. Matsusaki of the Japanese Gymnastic's Associations Foreign Relations Committee. The following morning we met the Communist Chinese delegation, also consisting of two coaches, two boys, two girls and one interpreter. We were to accompany them by air to Gita City airport then by hovercraft to the downtown area of Gita. Gne of ithe Chinese boys spoke some English he had learned listein ing to the radio so we learned their names and that they were from the Peking City Club Gymnastics Team. The English pronunciations of the girls names were Lee Tray Ling and Tong Chow Lee and the boys, Li Yen Jou and Hi Sung Liang.
Enroute to the hotel we stopped for interviews and a TV appearance at GBS (Gita Broadcasting System) then on to the city offices for an official welcome. Eventually we got to the new gymnasium sports center facility where the meet was to be held . Here the guys and gals stretched out aqd tried out the equipment in preparation for competition the following day. The facilities were great, very spacious and well lit. It was here that were were introduced to Mr. Shima who was to serve as our interpreter when Mas was busy. Following this we returned to the hotel and hurridly prepared for the official reception to be held in the dining area at the top of the hotel overlooking Gita City. Mr. Ikari and Mr. Nosaka officially welcomed both the Chinese and American delegations as well as their own Japanese representatives and spoke of the purpose of the competition. (1) commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Japanese Gymnastic'S Association, (2) commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the TBS, the meet's National sponsor, (3) commemorate the 10th Anniversary of GBS the meet's local sponsor, and (4) commemoration of Gita City'S long sought sports center. With this in mind the foreign delegations, the Chinese and the Americans were asked to say a few words . I wished them Happy Birthday and stated how grateful we were to be part of the event as well as our appreciation for the opportunity to show good will and friendship through sport to our Japanese hosts and newfound Chinese friends. The next morning we had breakfast and taxied to the gym for the firs t of two da ys of com peti tion. Some 11 boys and 9 girls were involved in the competitions. This was actually a few less than originally planned but bec:ause of some scratches the number had been reduced. The girls warmed up pretty much on their own. The two events to be competed that day were the uneven bars and vaulting. The equipment was excellent, no problem making adjustments - board was wood but good and springy and the rails were Fig fiberglass . We were informed that the meet was to follow 1977 Fig competition 2 rules. Two of the same vaults may be thrown. The
Gymnastics News/ May-June, 1979